Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Murdered brother of Afghan president was Cubs fan, once had Chicago restaurant frequented by Cubs fans

7/12/11, Chicago Tribune, "Ahmed Wali Karzai found his political footing as he listened to fellow expatriates talk about their home country during the time he ran a restaurant in Lakeview in the 1980s and early 1990s, his attorney said Tuesday.... A batch of confidential documents released by the WikiLeaks organization last year also mention Ahmed Wali Karzai’s talking about how he loved the Lakeview neighborhood. A 2010 diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks says that Ahmed Wali Karzai moved to Chicago in 1983.

During meetings with American officials in September 2009 and February 2010, a "nervous, though eager" Ahmed Wali Karzai, dressed in a traditional loose tunic and trousers, tried to win them over with tales about his years running the restaurant, according to documents released by WikiLeaks. "Further emphasizing his links to the United States, AWK fondly recalled his days in Chicago as a restaurant owner close to Chicago's Wrigley Field," a memo stated, according to WikiLeaks. "His restaurant was a hub for Americans in the Midwest who had worked or lived in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion, he said."

In an interview in the fall of 2001, as he waited in Pakistan to reenter Afghanistan as U.S. forces fought the Taliban, Ahmed Wali Karzai also reminisced with a Tribune reporter about Chicago. He talked about Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville and getting the crowds from the Cubs games at his family's restaurant. And joked about the winters in Chicago.

“He thought that Chicago summers were absolutely a day at the park compared to a Kandahar summer, and he thought that Chicago winters were not as bad as being in the mountains in Pakistan. All in all, he probably is one of the few who found that Chicago’s extremes were more than tolerable,” Posner said.

Ahmed Wali Karzai became a Cubs fan while in Chicago, and claimed to still follow them, along with the Chelsea soccer team, as the only two sports teams outside of his home country that he cared about, Posner said.

After his time in Chicago, Ahmed Wali Karzai went to Pakistan, to work with Hamid Karzai and another brother who were working to influence the future of Afghanistan, and he was among the first exiles to return to the country with the invading U.S. forces, Posner said.

On his return to Afghanistan, Ahmed Wali Karzai became head of Kandahar's provincial council. Critics, including U.S. officials, said he was deeply involved in corruption, some of it stemming from Kandahar's flourishing drug trade. In the secret diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks, American diplomats portrayed Karzai as a Mafia-like figure, entangled in a variety of illegal activities. Ahmed Wali Karzai has consistently denied the allegations, including through Posner, and also hotly disputed reports of his involvement with the CIA.

  • In the same February 2010 meeting with U.S. officials in which he reminisced about Chicago, Ahmed Wali Karzai, "unprompted," denied being involved in narcotics trafficking, and offered to take a polygraph test to prove he was not."

7/12/11, "Attorney: Chicago restaurant sparked Karzai brother's political interest," Chicago Tribune

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